Unfrosted TV/Web/NT, 2024, 1 ¾ stars


Seinfeld food farce is overcooked

Exclusive to MeierMovies, May 10, 2024

Inspired by the real competition between Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts and Post’s Country Squares in the early 1960s, Jerry Seinfeld’s Unfrosted is packed with antics and clever comedic situations but lacks nuance, cohesiveness and consistent laughs. Despite its occasional charm and talented cast, it tastes stale.

Seinfeld wrote the script with his team of Spike Feresten, Barry Marder and Andy Robin, and its jokes and gags come fast and furiously. Indeed, the comedic pacing is superb. But not many people but Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd ever strung together a successful feature on gags alone, and Seinfeld, in his directorial debut, fails to successfully bring his script to the screen. Too many bits end in groans rather than chuckles, and the only guffaw comes when a member of the Pop-Tart tasting team is accidentally blown up and given a “full cereal burial,” complete with milk and fruit poured into his grave. It sounds macabre, but in the context of farce, it’s hilarious. The rest of the film lacks anything close to this moment.

The elephant in the room is Seinfeld’s acting. A gifted comedian and co-creator of one of the best sitcoms ever, he’s just not a very good actor and never has been. He has surrounded himself with better actors, such as Hugh Grant and Melissa McCarthy, but the film also stars Jim Gaffigan (as Edsel Kellogg III, an entirely invented character) and Amy Schumer (as Marjorie Post, a fictionalized version of Marjorie Merriweather Post), who are just as mediocre as Seinfeld (who plays Kellogg’s head of development, a character based loosely on the man who really did invent the Pop-Tart). Everyone is trying a bit too hard, forcing the laughs, and more often than not they simply don’t arrive.

But the film’s fatal flaw might be its relationship to the companies it’s lampooning – because it’s not truly lampooning them. Yes, the story is almost entirely fictional (which seems odd, even for satirical silliness), but the true problem is that Unfrosted comes across as one, big, bloated commercial for breakfast food. I’ve eaten fewer than 10 Pop-Tarts in my life but now find myself craving them, along with all the many Kellogg and Post cereals thrown in our faces for 93 minutes. In this regard, Unfrosted might be the best commercial ever made, but it’s not much of a movie.

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For more information about this movie, visit IMDB and WikipediaThe film is now streaming on Netflix.